The author Yasssin Al Haj Saleh, who was imprisoned by the Syrian authorities for sixteen years, tells us: In writing about prison and imprisonment, lies the imperative to tear the belly of the prison apart in order to extract the individuals out of it, one by one, so as to liberate their names, their narratives, their personal stories and their lost times, for they are all unique and valuable in their own rights*. Therefore my friends look at the pictures below and attempt to see the human behind the wreckage, the soul of man mixed with the debris, and the laughter of children lost to us forever. Adam named all things in order to achieve knowledge of them and unless we free the names, faces and stories of these lost people in the belly of the Leviathan, we cannot free our souls from complicity in the destruction of man, culture, history and civilization.
I wish all who read this post to experience the existential horror of annihilation in the full knowledge that, as it is happening to the others; it is also happening to us. We can pretend that the remains of a city and its people are geological features, or nothing but archaeological monuments which we can visit as tourists, then leave behind, maintaining our detachment in order to resume our ordinary lives and routines. Never the less, these newly devised archaeological sites, masterpieces of devastation caused by relentless bombardment by every known weapon, except the nuclear, were created under our very own eyes and are still being created as an indictment to our ambivalence and ethical disintegration. There are miles and miles of them: horrific skeletons of the annihilated Syrian cities and towns.
I can see us in the future attempting to atone for this sacrilege by erecting memorials and celebrating anniversaries in memoriam. I can witness us in the future eulogizing and obituarising, declaring, after the deed, that we surely could have done something to stop this ruination of a country and its people. Yes, we shall do that, expressing deep regret when we are distant enough and safe enough to make such declarations and express such emotions.
* Yassin Al Haj Saleh, Salvation, O Boys, Beirut, Al Saqi, 2012